Sunday April 1
Well, I have been back in Canada since Wednesday at noonish. When you arrive home from such a big trip, where so much happens, it always take a few days to process. Not to mention that I went to Ottawa for the weekend for a meditation weekend with a group I’ve just started with (I’m currently sitting in the backseat of the car that I hitched a lift with, typing away!).
When I get home from big trips, people often ask me what the highlights were for me. So here’s my attempt at some highlights:
The Golden Temple: I was so lucky to be able to visit the temple about 6 times or so, and at different times (sunset, sunrise, mid-afternoon etc). The temple is different at different times of the day: the lighting, the people, the atmosphere. But each time, I had such a special experience. Whenever vast crowds of people come together with a common purpose of worship, no matter what the religion, the presence of the being you worship is palpable. The music at the temple is also very special – live music (several instruments and chanting) from 4 am to midnight, while performed in the temple is broadcast over loudspeakers and the chanting is gorgeous.
Seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama is McLeod Ganj: well to be honest I only caught a glimpse of his face once, and then had a great view of the top of his head for several hours, but to be in the same room as hundreds of monks, waiting for HH, and then in the same space as he was, surrounded by chanting, was magical.
The Panchakarma (cleanse) at PDI: as you know from my facebook posts and what I’ve written previously, the Panchakarma was not all good times. It involves drinking ghee prepared with herbs for three mornings in a row, followed by drinking a concoction and taking a pill which flushed your body out. Hours of entertainment on the toilet. But, I took the opportunity to make the most of the experience and as Dr Latika suggested let it be an emotional cleansing as well as a physical one. It really was a special experience.
My outing in the hills north of Rishikesh: to see the Ganga (and fall in – you should see the bruise I have), to sit in the presence of Maa Gyaan Suveera, to feel the joy of workship a the ISKCON temple……real magic.
The music: I remember the sounds as much as anything else. And I heard some great ones: the aforementioned chanting at the Golden Temple and the ISKCON temple and the fantastic music from so many taxi and tuktuk drivers. The music of India is so special, and will always transport me instantaneously back to that wonderful place.
Last year when I returned from India, I really struggle to acclimatize back into my life. I think it took me nearly two months to be where I was, instead of back in India. This time, it’s been a smoother transition. I think partly because it’s my second time, and being at the meditation weekend also really helped (which is one of the reasons that I timed my return in order to be able to attend). But part of my heart will always be in India. Like so many Westerners before me, I found pieces of myself in India that I didn’t know existed. Who I am today is in part to what I found there. In that way, India is a place where I was born, and will always be like a home to me. And I hope to return there, many times, and have more and more of myself revealed to me each time I do.
But at this moment, as the car I’m in drives through the beauty that is Eastern Ontario, I am fully present here. The pine forests, interrupted by white spears of birch trees that have yet to bud, are such a reminder of Canada. The small pools and lakes by the side of the road are clear and so perfectly reflect the blue sky with pouffy white clouds that it’s as if the world has suddenly been turned upside down and the sky is at my feet. This land sings to me, and while I know that India may be home to my spirit, Canada is and always will be my home.